The office of Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani urged the U.S.-led coalition to take a firm stand with Kurdistan against “Iranian-sponsored terror organizations” that have seized the city of Kirkuk.
In a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation on Monday amid reports of Iraqi troops moving into the Kurdish-administered city of Kirkuk, the office of Barzani said that the U.S. and other international bystanders have to decide which side to support in the open conflict over Kirkuk.
“The conflict is now in full swing, and bystanders will have to decide whether to stand with their longtime, pro-West ally — or Iranian-sponsored terror organizations more dangerous than the Islamic State,” the office said. “We love America; they burn the American flag. It’s time for some moral clarity.”
“It is crucial that the coalition and international community hold Baghdad and the Iranian terror proxies accountable, and support an environment conducive to amicable negotiations that will conclude with independence and rights for our nation,” the office continued.
The Kurdistan Regional Government strongly believes that Iranian proxies, supported by the Iranian Quds Force, are behind the attacks.
The U.S. has so far aggressively downplayed reports of violent conflict over Kirkuk, saying early Monday that Iraqi troops are not conducting attacks and are instead simply moving military vehicles and personnel. The U.S. also emphasized in the same statement that it’s neither assisting the Iraqi government nor the Kurdistan Regional Government, regarding the recent activity in Kirkuk.
“Coalition forces and advisors are not supporting Government of Iraq or Kurdistan Regional Government activities near Kirkuk, but are aware of reports of a limited exchange of fire during predawn hours of darkness Oct. 16,” Operation Inherent Resolve said in a statement. “We believe the engagement this morning was a misunderstanding and not deliberate as two elements attempted to link up under limited visibility conditions.”
However, Reuters reported Monday that the U.S.-trained Iraqi Counter Terrorism Force rolled into Kirkuk with a convoy of vehicles and took control of the city in an operation lasting less than a day. Iraqi forces took down the Kurdish flag and replaced it with an Iraqi flag. One aid organization stated that several Peshmerga and Iraqi fighters were killed overnight in a brief clash.
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